Despite their relatively tight pursestrings for the major leagues’ biggest market, the New York Mets have had an active offseason. New faces Mets fans will see in orange and blue in 2018 include two-time All-Star third baseman Todd Frazier, innings-eating starter Jason Vargas, and reliever Anthony Swarzak, who enjoyed a breakout campaign at age 31 in 2017.
But according to a recent prediction from general manager Sandy Alderson, Mets fans will see another face foreign to the big league club: minor leaguer and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow.
“Somebody asked me whether I think he’ll be a major league player at some point,” Alderson said on Sunday at the team’s spring training camp, where Tebow is one of 15 non-roster invitees working out with the big league squad. “I think he will play in the major leagues. That’s my guess. That’s my hope, and to some extent now after a year and a half, a modest expectation.”
Two years ago, Tebow signed a minor league contract in what appeared to be a PR stunt. Early returns seemed to confirm those suspicions. Then he started to show signs of improvement last season before finishing the year with a freezing-cold 3-of-44 stretch at the plate. In 2017, Tebow hit a paltry .226/.309/.347 across stints in Single-A and High-A ball, despite his being roughly seven years older than his average opponent. He was somehow worse in the field, committing a ridiculous 10 errors in just 657.1 innings in left field.
In other words, we probably shouldn’t see Tebow in the majors in 2018 unless he makes unprecedented improvements at his age, or if the team, as they did in 2017, disintegrates so hastily that it couldn’t hurt to reap the financial rewards of calling up a bad baseball player with a significant following, one willing to dole out cash to see him become one of the fewer than 70 individuals to have played in the majors and the NFL.
The changes in Tim Tebow’s batting stance are dramatic. He starts with a much narrower base than a year ago and attacks with a shorter, more compact swing. He’s dropped about 12 pounds. #Mets pic.twitter.com/vN2nNTyUyF
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 19, 2018
Hopefully for Mets fans, Alderson’s comments aren’t an indictment of his 2018 expectations for the team he assembled.
“He’s dedicated himself to improving,” Alderson added. “Spent a lot of time in the offseason working with hitting coaches and so forth. So some people say, ‘Well, gee, why is he in the major league camp?’ I think realistically given his age, given where he started, he and we need to try and accelerate the process.
“This experiment, if you will, is not going to last forever, but he’s made meaningful progress. We thought he would best benefit from being in major league camp. That would accelerate his development rather than falling back on protocol.”